Michigan Judges

Judges in Michigan can be elected or appointed by the Governor. If a judge is appointed, they will have to run for reelection at the end of their term in office.

Structure of Federal and State Judges in Michigan

The United States has two separate judicial systems, state and federal. State courts handle criminal and civil cases that primarily impact only Michigan residents. In federal court, cases generally involve the United States as a party, cases involving violations of federal law or the Constitution, and bankruptcy cases. There are Michigan judges who serve in both state and federal courts.

State Courts in Michigan

The state judicial system has five key parts: the District Court, Circuit Court, Probate Court, Court of Appeals, and the Michigan Supreme Court. District Court judges preside over civil lawsuits for under $25,000.00, landlord-tenant cases, traffic infractions, small claims, and state law and ordinance misdemeanors (crimes punishable by one year or under), and the initial stages of felony cases (arraignments and preliminary examinations for crimes punishable by more than one year).

In the Circuit Courts, Michigan judges handle felony cases, family law (domestic relations, custody, divorce, child support), civil lawsuits with an amount in controversy exceeding $25,000.00, child protective proceedings, juvenile delinquency, etc. The juvenile division of a circuit court handles neglect and abuse allegations and juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquency means violations of criminal laws by children under the age of 16.

The Michigan Court of Appeals hears cases where someone is dissatisfied with the ruling of a circuit court judge or a jury. In most cases, the party that loses a legal argument in a Circuit Court can appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Three judges preside over these appeals. A decision agreed to by two or all three judges is called the “majority opinion” and is the court’s ruling.

The highest court in Michigan is called the Michigan Supreme Court. A Michigan Supreme Court judge is referred to as a “justice.” There are seven justices in the Michigan Supreme Court, and the court generally hears cases where a party is dissatisfied with the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. The court’s ruling is the decision that is agreed upon by the majority of the justices.

Michigan does not have a public defender system for indigent defendants; however, those who cannot afford privately retained lawyers can seek court-appointed counsel. Good, affordable legal representation is available for those seeking a criminal defense lawyer.

Federal Courts in Michigan and the United States

The federal court system has three primary levels. The lowest level is the United States District Court. This court has the initial jurisdiction over most lawsuits and criminal matters involving federal law and crimes against the United States. United States District Court judges review petitions, hear motions, hold trials, and issue injunctions. U.S. District Court judges, like Michigan judges, are called “trial judges.”

The United States Court of Appeals is divided up into 12 circuits. These courts are frequently referred to as federal circuit courts. Michigan is in the Sixth Circuit. The circuit courts are appellate courts; they do not handle jury trials. Generally, three judges preside over federal appeals; however, a limited number of cases get heard by all of the Circuit judges simultaneously.

The United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and has the final say on any issue relative to federal law. Most cases filed in the Supreme Court are appeals, but the Court has original jurisdiction over certain cases. There are nine justices on the Supreme Court, and they decide cases together. The majority decision is considered the ruling of the court.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Additional Information Regarding Courts and Attorneys

If you need help finding a lawyer to help you in any area of the law, please call us for a free consultation at (248) 263-6800. Our lawyers have decades of experience successfully representing thousands of clients in all state and federal courts in Michigan.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

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Michigan Judges